What is Grazing?
Grazing or snacking is a habitual behaviour of eating small meals and snacks all day in-between or instead of full meals, in other terms, it is eating little and often. Grazing is an important cause of obesity and it also can develop insidiously after weight loss surgery.
How Does Grazing Affect My Weight Loss After Surgery?
All weight loss operations (gastric band, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass) work by making us eat less. They achieve this goal by different methods (gastric band by restriction only while sleeve and bypass by restriction and metabolic components).
By grazing on food items such as lollies, chips, or chocolate we end up consuming more calories than we should thus defeating the purpose of weight loss surgery.
In addition, continual grazing on food interferes with our body’s ability to burn fat. When we eat our body releases insulin which is a hormone that helps carry sugar into our cells to burn as energy. If our insulin levels are consistently raised due to grazing behaviours this means that our body will not be using energy from our fat stores. Not only are our bodies not entering into a “fat burning phase” these snack foods are often of poor nutritional quality with excess fat, sugar, and salt.
Following your weight loss surgery you should be aiming to have 3 main meals per day with one or two scheduled snacks in between meals if needed to meet your requirements or if you are truly hungry. If you are finding you are falling into grazing behaviour please see the tips listed below to assist with this;
8 Tips to Help You Reduce Grazing Behaviour
1. Do not eating in front of the TV
Distractions around meal times such as the television result in far more calories being consumed. So turn that TV off and focus on what’s on your plate in front you.
2. Treat each time you eat like a meal
When we have a snack it is usually on the run and we forget to follow typical eating standards such as sitting at a table. Take the time to place your snack on a plate, sit down at a table and enjoy what you are having to eat.
3. Get rid of "comfort food" from your house
Out of sight is out of mind. Remove any unhealthy snack foods that you have around the house or work place so that you are not tempted to consume these. Food items such a lollies, chips, popcorn, chocolate and ice cream are the usual culprit. Make it a rule that these food items never enter the house. Instead replace these with healthy alternatives such as a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, a tub of yoghurt or cheese and wholegrain crackers. You can have the occasional indulgences but make it a rule that you only indulge when you are out.
4. Determine if you are truly hungry or just bored
Are you really truly hungry? How long has it been since you last ate? Quite often we eat when we are bored. If you are finding you are facing this try to use distraction techniques such as going for a walk outside, paint your nails, read a book or watch a movie.
5. Check your fluid intake
At times thirst can be confused with hunger. Have you reached your minimum 1.5L fluid intake for the day? Instead of going straight for something to eat just check in to make sure that you are well hydrated.
6. Avoid eating at night
Night time eating is another bad habit after weight loss surgery. It is responsible for weight regain or inadequate weight loss as well as heartburn and regurgitation at night as a result of going to bed with full stomach.. Brushing your teeth after dinner is a good trick to stop you from grazing. Most snacks will taste bad after brushing your teeth. In addition, you can distract yourself with reading, surfing the web or catching up with friends over the phone or on Facebook.
6. Join Our Support
Seek support from people who have gone through the same journey of weight loss surgery. Our support group is a great place to talk to others who are undergoing the same challenges you are facing after surgery.
7. Manage your stress at work or at home by methods other than comfort food.
We all eat more when we are anxious, under stress or depressed. Support from family and friends is vital and you may want to seek the professional help of a psychologist.
8. Be active
Exercise is a great way to uplift your mood, burn calories, preserve your muscles and suppress you appetite.
Habits can be hard to break. It is much easier to avoid grazing before it becomes an established habit. These tips will help you but remember to be patient and not to be too hard on yourself.